'Absolute chaos' at Birmingham Airport as thousands forced to queue outside

·4 min read

Watch: Airline passengers forced to wait outside airport for hours

Passengers have complained of "absolute chaos" at Birmingham Airport as thousands of travellers were forced to queue up outside the terminal building.

Many holidaymakers were forced to wait two hours just to get through security on Monday morning.

Some claimed the line was as long as a kilometre, as the airport struggles to cope with an increase in passengers coupled with staff shortages.

Photos posted on social media showed the queue snaking out of the airport doors.

Passengers reported being called out of the queue by airport staff so they could make it in time for their flight.

Sam, a passenger travelling for work, said: “Thousands of people are queueing — from inside, all the way outside to the car park. There’s only one entry point as well. And very little security checks open.”

Photos taken by a passenger flying from Birmingham Airport to Edinburgh, Matthew Broome, show huge queues on Monday morning (May 9)
Credit: Matthew Broome/BPM
A queue of passengers outside Birmingham Airport on Monday morning. (Reach)
(Reach)
Large numbers of passengers were left queuing outside the terminal at Birmingham Airport on Monday. (Reach)

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He eventually got through security at 8.30am — two and a half hours after he arrived — with 10 minutes to spare until his flight.

Another passenger, Matthew Broome, said: "I think it was a whole two hours queue for security — I had no bags and checked in online and am only going to Edinburgh, so reckon you need three to four hours.

"At present, the airport can’t manage the number of flights/passengers, so think it should scale back and reduce what they do until have sorted staffing issues/processes."

Picture taken with permission from the twitter feed of @BobBlack1964 of queues outside Brmingham Airport as thousands of passengers flying from airport were forced to wait in long queues outside for several hours as the aviation sector continues to suffer from staff shortages. Picture date: Monday May 9, 2022.
Queues outside Brmingham Airport as thousands of passengers were forced to wait in long lines to get through security. (PA)

It's the latest in a string of problems to hit Birmingham Airport following weeks of complaints from flyers about long security queues and delays.

There were similar scenes at the weekend, when travel giant TUI was forced to apologise to its customers left stuck waiting outside the terminal on Saturday.

An airport spokesperson said about 7,500 people were booked to fly during the busy dawn peak on Monday, prompting the decision to run security queues outside.

They said the lines were "long but managed and moving".

Watch: Line Stretches Outside Terminal at Manchester Airport

The airport said: "Half of the 15,000 customers flying out of BHX today were booked to depart in our busy dawn peak, so we took the decision to run security queues outside the terminal to avoid them getting tangled with check-in lines. We thank customers for their patience.

"As always, our message to departing customers is: Help us help you keep queues moving by removing any liquids, gels, pastes and electrical items from your bags before our security x-ray scanners."

There were also long queues through security on Monday morning at Manchester Airport.

Some passengers reported taking three hours to get past security to their flights.

Last week, Birmingham Airport chief executive Nick Barton admitted the queues chaos could continue for several weeks.

Speaking to BBC Radio WM, he blamed a 12-week "lag" between recruiting new employees and making them operational.

The queue snaking around Birmingham Airport on Saturday. (Reach)
The queue snaking around Birmingham Airport on Saturday. (Reach)
Large numbers of passengers queuing inside Birmingham Airport on Saturday. (Reach)
Large numbers of passengers queuing inside Birmingham Airport on Saturday. (Reach)

He said: "It's still the legacy of the industry being turned back on by the government's removal of the rules in mid-February."

The airport said 43% of its employees were made redundant during the pandemic due to travel restrictions which were lifted in mid-February with no prior warning.

It added that it began a recruitment drive in November 2021.

New security officers are expected to be on duty soon after completing training.

Long queues have been reported at airports across the UK in recent weeks, including at Heathrow, Manchester and Stansted.

This has been blamed on a number of factors, including the time it takes for new ground staff to pass security clearance, staff sickness, a lack of Border Force officials and the spike in demand for travel following the end of the UK’s coronavirus restrictions

Watch: Delays at UK airports as passengers increase amid staff shortages

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